At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Gratan Fire Department
2134 Old Belding Rd NE
Belding, MI 48809
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a bright smile and a welcoming heart, John "Jack" Alden Proos lived a life rich in family and friends. A generous man, Jack was quick to avail himself to others, offering support and encouragement at every turn. He was a resourceful man who was good with his hands and who enjoyed tending his flower garden. Whether running the family business, tending his home, or sharing his love of fishing, Jack welcomed each moment as a gift and was deeply grateful for all he was given. A proud husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Jack will long be remembered and ever so missed.
With the rearming of US forces, the strains of the Great Depression began to ease in 1940. Americans' incomes grew, and their increased spending further fueled the economy. In the US, the optimism of leaving the depression behind inspired the making of several classic movies, including "Gone With the Wind" and the "Great Dictator," while the invigorating sounds of Benny Goodman and Count Basie's Jazz filled our homes with hope. Newly invented Nylon stockings were all the rage with women, and FDR was elected for an unprecedented third term. Despite the ominous winds of change blowing in from Europe, the foundation of hope and generosity our nation had firmly rooted itself in as a result of the preceding decade's hardships could not be shaken. It was within this overwhelming feeling of fortitude, generosity, and hope that Neal and Viola (Giddings) Proos welcomed their son Jack into their hearts and lives on October 8.
The youngest of the five Proos children, Jack's early years were filled with activity. Growing up on Carrier St. NE, even with a 22-year span from oldest to youngest, Jack enjoyed close relationships with his older siblings, Kenneth, Russell, Bertha, and Jean. Jack's mother was a school teacher, and his father owned and operated a steel stamping and manufacturing company in Grand Rapids. The Proos kids were held to high expectations, and Jack will be long remembered being reprimanded for watching their neighbors' TV through the window on Sunday; the children were not allowed to watch TV on Sundays. For a short time, the family moved to Florida as the climate was better for Jack's father, who had Lou Gehrig's disease and used a walker or wheelchair. While his father's commitment to his company kept the family from traveling, they enjoyed holiday gatherings with extended family and boating and fishing at their summer home on Hess Lake in Newaygo County, Michigan. They also enjoyed snowmobiling with son Russ's snowmobile at his cabin on Brooks Lake.
Not a particularly good student, Jack graduated from Creston High School in Grand Rapids with the class of 1958 and promptly enlisted in the United States Navy. During his years of service, Jack worked as an airplane mechanic and traveled extensively, mostly in Europe, aboard the Aircraft Carrier the USS Forrestal.
After returning home from his time in the service, Jack met Carol Breckon. The couple married in 1964 and quickly had two children, son Terry and daughter Amy. Jack returned to working in his father's manufacturing business, which and his siblings took over in 1978 when their father retired. Five years later, he and his sister Jean bought the business from their siblings, and in 1987, Jack's daughter Amy joined the business she later purchased in 2010 from her father and aunt.
Though Jack and Carol's marriage ended in divorce after more than 20 years, in 1988, Jack was gifted another chance at love. While attending a church singles club, he met Diane, a nurse with two daughters, Kathy and Karen. The pair began dating and were soon setting their hearts on sharing the future. In 1991, they married in Muskegon, Michigan, embracing one another's children as their own. The blended family settled in a house and property Jack fondly called "Paradise," on Big Pine Island Lake in Northern Kent County, where Jack would remain until his death.
Jack was a man who enjoyed the simple things in life, like meat and potato meals, grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, and popcorn made the old school way, with cooking oil in a big sturdy pan. He liked going out to breakfast at local restaurants, Perkins, New Beginnings, and Mr. Burger and was passionate about reading the newspaper. Jack enjoyed a roaring campfire at the lake with friends and family, a peaceful pontoon boat ride around the lake and mowing grass with his John Deere tractor. He enjoyed cheering on all the Michigan sports teams, especially the Detroit Lions and Tigers, as well as all the Michigan State University teams. He loved attending the local Whitecaps and Griffins games and March Madness basketball was a favorite time of year. He and his brother Russ enjoyed many hours fishing on Lake Michigan. Jack proudly hung the mounted antelope he bagged while hunting in Montana with his buddies in his home. Quick to give of his time and talents, Jack participated in the Grattan Township Planning Commission, was a member of the American Legion in Belding, MI, and was an engaged member of New Community and Knapp Street Reformed Churches. He shared the companionship of several canine companions over the years, most recently Blossom. Jack and Blossom enjoyed sharing smarties candies almost every night! Upon retiring, Jack enjoyed traveling with his beloved. Some of their most memorable trips included times in Clearwater, Florida, Shipshewana, Mount Rushmore, Canada, Porcupine Mountains, Dominican Republic, Ixtapa and Puerto Vallarta.
Despite having been a strict parent, Jack was always very supportive of his family, and he grew into a much milder grandfather. He adored his grandchildren and loved sharing time with them. He especially enjoyed their extended visits at "Paradise," where they spent time fishing off the dock and boating. Jack was quick to tease with legendary wisecracks and was also known to hum his favorite tunes, which included many hymns, Roger Whitaker songs, and music by the Gaither Vocal Band.
Clearly, life feels less certain in the absence of Jack's steadfast presence. May we find comfort in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. With each line we cast, hymn we hum, boat ride we take, service we provide, and moment we mindfully share with our loved ones, we celebrate the many ways Jack gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.
John A. Proos "Jack," age 81, of Belding, MI, passed away peacefully on Thursday, December 30, 2021, and went home to be with his Lord and Savior. Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by his siblings Russell, Kenneth, and Bertha. Jack is survived by his wife of 30 years, Diane [Wangerin]; their children Terry Proos (Linda), Amy Proos, Kathy (Jon) LeBarre, and Karen (Chad) Kewish; grandchildren, Jacob and Jessica LeBarre, Berlyn, Kipp & Paige Kewish, Trevor, Karley & Alex Engelsman and Chelsea Proos; his sister Jean as well as many nieces and nephews.
A service to remember and celebrate Jack's life will be held on Tuesday, January 4 at 11 AM at New Community Church (2340 Dean Lake Rd NE Grand Rapids, MI 49505), officiated by Pastor Lew VanderMeer. Friends are invited to visit with his family on Monday, January 3, 2021, from 2-4 and 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel (1833 Plainfield Ave. NE Grand Rapids, MI 49505), as well as at 10 AM prior to the funeral service at church. Masks are required at the visitations. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Tandem365, (1279 Cedar St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503), Grattan Fire Department, (2134 Old Belding Rd NE, Belding, MI 48809), Spectrum Health Hospice & Palliative Care, (750 Fuller Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503) or New Community Church are appreciated. To read more about Jack's life, share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com